Over the years, I have gotten to interact with Christians from diverse backgrounds, many of whom have differing opinions on what it means to be a christian indeed or a disciple. As a result, I have often asked myself what the implication is of a Christian who is content to just remain a believer headed for heaven, rather than a disciple striving to live by the conditions Jesus outlined in Luke 14:25-33. More recently, When meditating on these verses again, I was drawn to the two illustrations Jesus chose to use to describe the importance of discipleship, and this gave me more light on the answer to the aforementioned question.
“For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you… Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him … So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” - Luke 14:28-33 NLT
I was struck that the emphasis of Jesus was not on the need to start a building project or on having the courage to declare war on an enemy. Rather, His emphasis was on completing the building and winning the battle. In the same manner, I believe that Jesus is much more interested in how I finish my christian journey than how well I start it.
At NCCF, we have often heard the christian life described as a three-story building: the first floor being our personal walk with Christ, the second floor our marriage/home life, and the third our church life; with Jesus Himself being the foundation/Chief cornerstone. Also, Matthew 7:24 tells us that with time, this three-story building is guaranteed to face storms (trials and adversity), and only through obedience (discipleship) would we be able to ensure that the building withstands the onslaught.
Reflecting on my own experience, I see that being a faithful disciple of Jesus is more critical than ever before now that I am building additional floors on what was once a single-storey building. This is because the temptations are now more subtle, my flesh more deceptive, Satan’s schemes more fierce, and bad decisions more consequential. In my college days, it was easy for me to be selfish in many areas and still think I was spiritual because I could simply keep my distance from anyone who offended me. Also, whenever I backslid, it only impacted me and no one else. However, after getting married and being plugged into a church I am much more aware of selfishness and pride in my life and I also get to face tougher temptations. The consequences of my decisions have now become much greater, and now impact more people: my wife, (future) children, and other brothers and sisters in the church. Hence, if I am to finish my christian life well, I must be diligent to be a disciple and seek to live according to the standard Jesus has set for His disciples.
Likewise, by becoming a Christian, I am automatically plunged into an ongoing war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, whether I realize it or not. The devil is constantly searching for a loophole through which he can cause havoc in my spiritual life, my home, and the Body of Christ. How then can I ensure that I win this spiritual battle that is being waged? I believe God's answer to this is also discipleship. If I allow anger and other sinful attitudes to remain in me rather than quickly putting my self-life to death, then Satan will gain the upper hand (Ephesians 4:26). However, if I seek to be a wholehearted disciple every day, then it would be easy for me to overcome him through the power of the Holy Spirit. The bible elaborates more on this when Paul reminds us about the importance of living an honest, righteous, peaceful, and faith-filled life when warring against the kingdom of darkness (Ephesians 6:10-18). He also admonishes us to pursue a life filled with knowledge of God’s word, prayer, and a desire to be saved from all sin. This is how I can ensure victory against the devil even until the end of my life.
May the Lord help us all seek to continue to be wholehearted disciples of Jesus Christ, building solid unshakeable personal, home, and church lives that overcome the devil and will remain standing firm until Christ returns regardless of whatever trials, temptations, and attacks come our way. Amen!
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” - Paul (2 Timothy 4:7-8)